Bike Gear Not Shifting? Here’s 5 Simple Fixes

Troubleshooting Bike Gears That Won't Shift

If you have a bike in your garage, or maybe even a kid who wants to ride it, you know that the last thing you want is your bike gear not shifting.

The good news is that some simple fixes can help your gears shift again so you can get back on the trails in no time.

But first, what are these “gears” we’re talking about?

Bike gears use a chain and sprocket system to transfer force from the pedals to the wheel. That means that if your gears aren’t shifting correctly, it could be due to various reasons – from a broken chain to an unbalanced wheel.

In this article, we’ll take a look at these common problems with bike gears and how to fix them quickly and easily so you can get back out there riding!


Bike Gear Not Shifting?

Bike gear not shifting?

Nobody likes to be stuck in the middle of a ride with a bike that won’t shift gears. It can be frustrating, but you don’t have to give up on your ride just because your bike has some issues.

You may not even need to take it into the shop for repairs! Here are some common causes for gear shifting problems.

Bike Cable Problems

Bike cables can degrade over time – the strands of wire become worn and break. This means your gear may not shift properly when you’re riding or brake as well as it should.

It’s frustrating when your bike gears not shifting smoothly. The most common cause is rust and dirt on the bike cable and sprockets. 

If you’ve been riding in wet conditions or if you’ve been cleaning your bike with a dirty rag, this can be an issue. If you have a bike with a chain guard, make sure it’s not loose or dragging on the ground.

Brake Cable Problems

Cables help activate brakes on bikes that have cable-pull brakes. A braided inner cable of stainless steel wire and a casing made from an outer cable housing form the structure.

They operate by transmitting pressure using a combination of tension and compression on the inner and outer housing, respectively.

Brake cable problems are one of the usual causes of a bike gear not shifting. The brake cables pull the brakes on and off, and if they’re misaligned or have been incorrectly adjusted, your bike may slow down, fail to stop entirely, or not shift.

Brake cables can also get stretched or damaged, which will cause them to pull less effectively.

Derailleur problems cable

If your bike gear not shifting, the problem may be with your derailleur. The derailleur is a device that sits on the rear part of your bicycle and moves the chain from one gear to another.

It allows you to measure and adjust your effort, which is how hard your legs are pushing on the pedals at any given time, so that you can get maximum results in terms of distance traveled or speed while biking.

A hanger made of aluminum or steel secures the derailleur to the bike’s frame. Crashing or tossing the bike can damage this hanger. The derailleurs and sprockets can’t function properly when bent.

Faulty Limit Screws

The limit screws on your bike’s derailleur keep the chain from skipping and jerking when you shift gears. The upper limit, lower limit, and B-limit screws are standard on most derailleurs. 

The upper limit screw is in charge of how far the derailleur can move in its highest gear, while the lower limit screw determines how far the derailleur can shift into the lowest gear. The B-limit screw determines the distance between the upper and lower jockey wheels.

If the gears are set too high, the chain can jump over the lowest gear without shifting down. If set too low, however, you’ll experience a lot of jolting when you try to shift into your lowest gear, as it won’t be able to move far enough up or down before reaching its limits.

Old Parts

Your bike ride quality will suffer if your bike is in bad shape. If you’re experiencing trouble with your bike gear not shifting, some of your bike parts are probably not working as they should.

These parts include cables that connect the handlebars to the derailleurs. If a cable snaps or breaks, it can prevent your derailleur from moving correctly.

Easy Fixes You Can Try For Bike Gear Shifting Troubles

Easy Fixes You Can Try For Bike Gear Shifting Troubles

If you’re having problems with your bike gear shifting, you can try a few easy fixes before calling a mechanic.

1. Clean Your Bike’s Derailleurs

Start assessing your bike by positioning it on a bike stand. When trying to fix your bike, getting the correct angle is crucial. A bike stand is a must-have for bike owners so you can effectively work on your bike.

Next, you should determine where your bike derailleurs are located. Ensure that they are clean and there’s no dirt buildup from exposure to the elements. Mud, small stones, or leaves may be stuck in your bike’s derailleurs.

Particles in the air can also interfere with your bike’s shifting mechanism. They can cause your bike to run poorly and slow down. Clean both derailleurs thoroughly, removing any particles that may interfere with the correct functioning of the gears.

2. Test Your Gears

To diagnose a bike gear not shifting problem, you must test each gear individually. First, use your hand to pedal your bike as usual.

Shift through each gear slowly and carefully, starting with the rear derailleur. This will let you know if your shimano rear derailleur won’t shift to high gears.

You may have already identified the gear that does not work. Pay attention to the gear wheel while pedaling the bike with your hand. If your bike gear not shifting up, you may have a problem with the chain or shifter.

In this case, you will notice that the gears shift with difficulty. To fix this, rotate the gear wheel two times to put it in its correct position.

Test your gears by turning the pedals. The gears should shift smoothly at every turn of the pedal. You can remove the bike from its stand when satisfied with this result.

3. Fix Bike Cables

If you feel like your bike cable is the problem, take the housings out of the stops. Slide the housings right along your bike cables to see if there is any dirt buildup.

If you see any gunk, wipe it clean. Also, replace the bike cables occasionally to prevent them from getting frayed or worn out.

4. Clean Or Replace Old Parts

If you’re having trouble with your bike gear not shifting, it’s probably because one or more of the parts involved are getting worn out.

The first order of business is to double-check that your chain is properly lubricated and that you haven’t run it too tight. This could be an issue if you have used the chain for a while. Just wipe it off and try again!

If that doesn’t work, check to see if any other parts are loose or bent – including any cables and housing lining up with their corresponding shifter or derailleur.

You might also want to check for wear on your cables or housing, which can cause them to not shift correctly. If none of these components are causing problems with shifting gears, it may be time for some new parts!

5. Take Your Bike To A Professional

If you’ve tried everything you can to troubleshoot your bike gear not shifting and the problem persists, it might be time to take your bike in for repairs.

It’s not a bad idea to get a second opinion on what might be wrong with your bike before you make any decisions. But if your local mechanic or bike shop recommends it, they’re probably right.

If you don’t know where to find a good repair service, look online for reviews from people who have used the service before.

You can also ask friends, family members, or other loved ones who ride bikes in your area for recommendations of businesses that have worked well for them. 

When asking someone else about their experiences, make sure that they know exactly what type of problem you’re having with your bike so that they can give you suitable suggestions.


Don’t let your bike gears prevent you from getting where you need to go. Find the cause of the bike gear not shifting, get it back in proper working order quickly, and learn how to prevent this issue from recurring.

Hopefully, the tips provided above will help you diagnose your problem. But be patient because, sometimes, bicycle derailleurs take a little tinkering to get back up and running.

Also, remember that you can use your bike’s gears again once you’ve successfully resolved the issue. So if one or more of your bike’s gears are not working correctly, don’t give up hope just yet!


Last Updated on June 19, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic

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